DTLA - The Downtown Los Angeles residential scene is in a state of what might be called exuberant expansion. The Garey Building in the Arts District opened last month with 320 apartments. The Maxfield Lofts debuted on Santee Street in June, adding 96 rental units to the Fashion District. The April arrival of the Hanover Olympic brought 263 apartments to South Park. Coming soon are Ten50, with 151 condominiums, also in South Park, and Blossom Plaza, which will create 237 apartments in Chinatown. That adds up to 1,067 residential units and is only the tip of the iceberg — just glance at the skyline to see all the cranes.
This collection of housing is, by most accounts, much-needed, and ideally the sharp increase in supply will help ease demand and lower rents, which in some new Downtown buildings surpass $4 a square foot, raising serious questions of affordability. However, even as these new units open, it is worth keeping an eye on the future — that’s because this is not the high point of the expansion, but rather the middle moment in a Downtown housing tidal wave that will extend to the next decade.
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In recent weeks Los Angeles Downtown News has written about a number of projects that either just broke ground or will start construction in the near future. If all these developments take two to four years to finish, which is generally the case, then the surge, and the pressure all that construction puts on traffic
and infrastructure, will continue at least until 2020. This isn’t a bad thing considering Downtown’s current jobs-to-housing imbalance, but the ongoing disruption is something that local residents and workers should be prepared to experience.
Some of the coming projects are massive and will change both the skyline and their communities. Last week, developer MacFarlane Partners announced that it has begun work on the first phase of its long-anticipated Park Fifth project north of Pershing Square; the initial building will bring 313 residences. Last month, developer Mack Urban broke ground on a 512-unit tower on the corner of 12th Street and Grand Avenue; the 37-story building is the second phase of a $750 million project where the first two structures are already under construction. Over on the edge of El Pueblo, the county and developer Trammell Crow just embarked on a project that will create 355 apartments. A 34-story tower from developer SKG America is scheduled to break ground at Fourth Street and Broadway in October. Once again, that’s the tip of the iceberg — many other developers also hope to break ground on projects in the next six months.
The addition of more cranes and more construction poses critical questions for the community, particularly as long-lasting civic projects such as the Regional Connector and the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement are underway. For instance, how are local leaders and planners preparing for potentially even greater gridlock when it is already more difficult than ever to navigate the community? Can these new buildings rise without closing streets and sidewalks on principal thoroughfares such as Broadway?
In many ways Downtown is profoundly fortunate, and the continued growth of the residential scene will provide even greater critical mass and help activate the community 24 hours a day. However, getting from here to there necessarily involves some inconveniences. Get ready for them, as this next next wave of housing is upon us.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2016